Defending conference champions set for tip

Wisconsin's men's basketball team starts a much anticipated season at Penn

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What:  UW Badgers (0-0) at Penn Quakers (0-0)

When:  Friday, November 21, 2003  5 p.m. CST

Site:  Palestra (8,700) in Philadelphia, Pa.

Broadcasts:  CSTV and 43-city Wisconsin Radio Network

Series Notes: UW leads all-time series 4-0.


The road to a three-peat begins tonight for the Wisconsin men's basketball team as they kick off the 2003 regular season with a bout with the two-time defending Ivy League champion Penn Quakers in Philadelphia, Pa.


After two solid preseason victories over the EA Sports All-Stars and the Charleston Lowgators of the NBDL, coach Bo Ryan's team is ready to take on the challenge of an unfamiliar foe in preparation for Big Ten play.


"They are basically preparing us to let us know where we are at, seeing who you can go to and whatever, you know just showing us how to set up our defense, and throwing different things at us to get us ready for the season," sophomore guard Boo Wade said.


Wade is one of a trio of Badgers who experienced injuries in preparation for season play, sophomores guard/forward Alando Tucker and forward/center Jason Chappell being the others. A Milwaukee, Wis. native, Wade twisted his knee a few weeks ago but missed only one game in returning Nov. 17 versus the Lowgators, scoring 15 points and grabbing five rebounds.


Wade and fellow guards senior Freddie Owens and junior Devin Harris, will pose quite a formidable backcourt this season. With Harris being named the Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year by the coaches and then averaging 24.5 points and 9.5 assists per game over the exhibition contests, the UW offense falls in very capable hands.


Also having a strong preseason for UW was returning junior forward Mike Wilkinson, who will be counted to provide an inside presence defensively and the team's No. 2 scoring option .


"Man we are so ready for the season to begin," Wilkinson said. "I mean just going out on the court and playing some games. We got a bunch of young guys who are looking to step up now, especially those guys we want to get some experience out on the court, on the road, in some tough places. When Tucker comes back, and Jason comes back, we'll be that much better and have that much more experience."


Senior center Dave Mader will likely round out Wisconsin's starting five


For coach Fran Dunphy's Quakers, they too are looking to begin their run for a third-straight conference championship with a win Friday. Led by their returning seniors, center Adam Chubb, guard Charlie Copp and guard Jeff Schiffner, Penn looks to improve its 62-14 record in home openers.


The Chester, N.J. native Schiffner begins the regular season as not only one of the team leaders, but also the nation's returning No. 1 three-point shooter after connecting on 49.3 percent of his attempts from behind the arc a season ago. Schiffner also finished last season as a first-team all Ivy League selection. His intelligent style of game, epitomizing the entire team, makes Badger fans remember the Dick Bennett days.


"Coach is really telling us that we can't look past them you know, they are an Ivy League team, they come off of a lot of ball screens, they got a lot of good shooters, and they make smart plays," Wade said.


The Quakers will surely give the Badgers all they can handle on Friday in Ryan's return to Philadelphia. In the first meeting between the two teams in more than 35 years, both teams will need to be at their best mentally and physically in order to come out on top.



Three keys to victory for UW:

1. TO's - UW was the nation's most secure team a season ago, only coughing up 10.4 turnovers per game. In order for them to reproduce the same success from last year, turnover numbers will have to be very similar.


2. Charity Stripe - The Badgers attempted 29 more free throws than their opponents in the preseason, a statistic that will need to stand out in UW's favor for them to leave Philly with a victory.


3. Riding the Pine - The Badgers' bench will be a huge asset for Bo Ryan's squad this season. Starting from the get-go, guys like forward Zach Morley and guards Kammron Taylor and Clayton Hanson will need to play very productive minutes for UW.


Three Keys to victory for Penn

1. Trifecta -  Three-pointer after three-pointer, Penn will fire them up. This team is not bashful with taking the outside shot, especially with their perimeter players. Getting hot early will be their key in this area.


2. The Element of Surprise – The bench is also key for Penn, namely the underclassmen. The Quakers graduated six seniors from last year, and will need someone young and even inexperienced to surprise the coach and complement the returning players. More importantly, someone to come in and catch UW off guard.


3. Streakin' - Penn enters the contest with the nation's current third-best regular season winning streak. Eighteen in a row is not too shabby and with their devoted fans, they carry that homecourt swagger that could prove to be a deciding factor.

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